Sunday, October 13, 2013

Weekend Review 10.13.13

Happy Sunday Evening Friends!

I would be watching the game (Redskins v. Cowboys) but 1) I hate the Cowboys and 2) the Cowboys are winning. Blech.

In other news, it was a spectacular day for my football teams today!

Packers, Steelers (finally), Eagles AND Seahawks all win today! YAY!!

Now if the Cowboys would do me a favor and lose....

In other weekend news, Friday night I went for a hill walk with my friend. 3.55 miles. Then Chris and I had pizza for dinner.

Saturday was an errand and house chores/projects kind of day. Lots of the stuff of life: laundry, dishes, organizing, cleaning.

I also went to JCPenney and bought some legging slacks and a gorgeous sweater.

Pic from the JCP site. This picture doesn't really do it justice though. First of all, on a petite gal like myself, it hits mid-thigh and because I'm fluffier than a 100 lb model, I bought a bigger sweater so it is less fitted. It will look super cute with the legging slacks and boots.

Saturday was also the day for taking stuff out of the freezer to defrost for Sunday cooking. I pulled a whole chicken and some beef short ribs out for today. We also needed to use some tomatoes up, so we threw a bunch of tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic (all from our garden!) into a crockpot to slow cook into a yummy sauce.

It rained quite a bit on Saturday, so there was also a lot of kitty snuggle times.

We also hit up Trader Joe's for some simmer sauce, and a few other essentials. Then we had sushi. YUM! I also managed to get about 40 minutes of exercise in with a couple of workout videos and some extra weights, planks, etc. 

I said several months ago that I would share more about the story of Chris and his new toy, the go-kart. I have yet to do so. In the end of June Chris decided to buy a go-kart, or rather, a shifter kart. We drove to Portland and picked it up one weekend. 

We have a go-kart track about 10 minutes from the house, and there is a go-kart club and there are races! Chris' cart is a 125 cc shifter kart, so it is one of the faster karts. The first race we attempted to go to was rained out. 

The second race was pretty awesome. 

Chris took 1st place in his rookie event! Way to go Chris!

The next race was rained out. 

Today is the "last" race of the season; last is in quotes because in two weeks they are going to try and "make-up" one of the rained out races...if it doesn't rain. 

He ended up taking 2nd in today's race, but the race was tight, bumper to bumper to the finish. He had a great time. 

Before I headed out to the track I took care of a bunch of stuff around the house. I started the crock pot going with the short ribs I defrosted Saturday, blended up the tomato medley I cooked in the slow cooker yesterday and put that in the freezer, packaged up some chicken broth I made earlier in the week and put that in the freezer, got the laundry going, cleaned the kitchen, and before all that I went and got groceries for the week. Whew!

Then I went to the squash patch and picked our squashes. 

The bugs, slugs and ants were starting to attack some of them so I picked most of what was out there. Anything not quite ripe will ripen up in the house. Is that not the cutest little pumpkin???

Then I headed out to the track for most of the day. We got really lucky in that the weather was really gorgeous today, a perfect fall day. 

I had to keep up with football scores on my phone, though. 

When we got home I went out and picked all the last of the grape tomatoes (and a few tomatillos).

I am insanely curious how many pints are in that big bowl. Those will all ripen off the vine and I will be eating grape tomatoes for a while yet.  (He cannot take a normal picture to save his life.)

Tonight's meal was Curried Beef Short Ribs, which is normally very tasty. I cooked up the stuff in the crockpot, made some basmati rice and sauteed some baby bok choy. 

Shredded short ribs (above), sauteed bok choy (below).

It all looks good, and for the most part it is very tasty, lots of good flavors, but the beef ribs were pretty fatty and I felt kinda gross after I ate them. 

Two things for next time: double the recipe (it doesn't make as much as one would think) and look for leaner cuts of short rib. 

While we were doing dinner and watching the game we started up the charcoal barbeque and cooked the whole chicken I defrosted. Now I have a bunch of chicken to eat this week for lunches and easy to put together dinners (like enchiladas with homemade verde sauce!)

I gave up on the Sunday Night Football game, and worked on this blog post, and then we sat in the hot tub for a while. Now it is past my bedtime!

Have a great week everyone!

Check out Chris' race video on YouTube! Please forgive any ridiculous videography. I am a terrible photo/videographer AND the sun makes it very hard to see where they are at on the track through the phone camera. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Garden Oddities

I have been so busy this summer that I haven't talked much about the garden.

Yes we did plant a garden.

Yes we did get a ton of good stuff.

Yes we have been preserving and canning.

Here are some of the overall oddities of our garden this year:

We had a tremendous amount of volunteer plants.

This is a spaghetti squash growing in my tomato patch. I did not plant this spaghetti squash. It grew here all on its own.

I had several other squash plants volunteer this year (spaghetti, yellow and butternut, along with some pumpkins!) as well as several tomatillo and tomato plants.

Volunteer gardens are the best!

The items that did the best this year, besides the squash (we have had a bang up year!) were the peppers, tomatoes and strawberries!

Here is a before and after pic of my strawberry patch.

An additional oddity: I am STILL getting strawberries! In OCTOBER. (For those non-gardener types out there strawberry "season" is typically early summer in most areas.)

I took that top picture two days ago. The bowl of strawberries was about a week and a half ago. ODD!

The raspberries are confused as to the season as well. I took this picture on Sunday, too.


I have already cooked at least two butternut squash, several (6 or 8) acorn squash, a few spaghetti squash, and this isn't all of what is currently in the "pantry" room. PLUS I have several more of various types still on the vine outside!


Again, this is just some of what we haven't used yet! We have made multiple types and batches of salsa with peppers, we have made chili, we have roasted and frozen a bunch of peppers, we have dried some peppers, we have frozen whole peppers, we have eaten fresh peppers....It is an understatement to say our pepper garden was a success this year.

Tomatoes, oh tomatoes.

Just a sample...we have more than this still ready to eat, plus we have smoked and frozen gallons of them, diced and frozen, cooked with them, dried them, eaten them fresh every day for MONTHS, made multiple sauces, used them in the salsa and the chili...and on and on. I personally planted almost 20 tomato plants (I know) and then I got another  AT LEAST 10 volunteers.

All I can say is that it is a good thing I love tomatoes.

Things that did less well this year than in years past include the basil, cucumbers, eggplant and green beans. We did get some of everything, but not the yields of years past. But, that is part of the joy and wonder of gardening. You just never know what you are going to get!

And just because it is cool and Chris wanted me to post it, here is a picture of a praying mantis that was hanging out with me in the basil patch one day.

Did you garden this year? How did you do? Any crazy producers or oddities?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Engage The Muscles

When people who are overweight, or a better description, out of shape, begin to work out, the first thing trainers and health coaches should work on is muscle engagement.

I know some of you are thinking "DUH!" right about now but hear me out. 

How many times have you heard someone who is out of shape or overweight say they don't have any ab muscles (or upper body strength or whatever)? 

I know I myself have said the exact thing MANY times. And I believe it! I believe it when I say I have no core strength or muscles. 


I'll tell you. 

It is because I don't engage those muscles consciously. I don't know (or I didn't used to anyway) know where they were or how to squeeze them to make them work. I mean, they are there and they do work, regardless of me engaging them, because I stand upright and walk and lift and twist and so forth everyday, but I am not consciously engaging those muscles to make that happen. 

I actually "worked out" for YEARS without understanding that instead of just moving my arm I needed to actively squeeze the bicep muscles while I was doing bicep curls. When I am doing ab work it isn't enough to just do the crunches, but I need to actually engage the core muscles, squeeze them, contract them...whatever you want to call it, to really make the workout effective. 

Even now I can forget to engage the muscles when I am working out, and I get a less effective and intense workout. 

The idea behind hiring a trainer or a health coach is to learn how to be healthier, and that is great and often useful, but I sometimes think (and I have had MANY trainers and health coaches over the years) that they don't start with the most basic of basics. 

Once we learn something as humans we have a tendency to think that what WE know is what everyone knows. 

That is simply not true. 

I did not know how to truly engage my muscles. I didn't use them consciously. I wasn't aware of them working everyday. 

It wasn't until I took a really excellent Pilates class, and became involved in Yoga that I really started to understand the difference between moving and engaging. 

It is easy to forget that not everyone knows what we once did not know. 

If you are working out but not seeing results, or if your trainer is saying things like "engage your core" and that doesn't mean anything to you, might I suggest stopping and having them really explain what that means.

I think trainers would see better results if they started the first session or two with simple static muscle engagement exercises, helping their clients identify WHERE their abs are, how this movement works this muscle, and how that movement should be felt elsewhere. 

Do you know where your muscles are? Do you actively engage while working out? Has a trainer ever had you do static muscle contraction to help you become familiar with your own body? 

I think it would be totally worth it. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mid-Week Food Prep

Sunday isn't the only day of the week you can do food prep. It is just the most popular, and that is understandable.

Many people consider Sunday the "gearing up for the week" day of the weekend; I know I do! So Sunday is often the day that we cook a roast, or a whole chicken, or make a big pot-o-something to eat on for the week (chili and big crock-pot meals come to mind!). 

But, Sunday isn't the only day you can do it!

Take tonight for example. 

It's a Tuesday evening and not much is happening at Casa Beebe. There is no Monday or Thursday night football to watch, no pressing house chores to do, no homework (yay!).

I was making fish for dinner on the grill.

I decided that since I already had the grill going I should go ahead and cook up some turkey sausage to have for easy protein additions to my  lunch for the week. I didn't make a whole chicken or a roast this past weekend, so I don't have an easy protein source for grab and go in the morning this week. 

While that was going on I was thinking about what should be on the menu for tomorrow night. I decided some of our home-grown spaghetti squash could be used up, and since I was already in the kitchen waiting for dinner to cook, I might as well throw that in the oven.

I pulled some homemade tomato sauce out of the freezer and stuck it in the fridge to defrost overnight. I also pulled out some ground chicken breast to defrost. 

Tomorrow night, all I will have to do is brown up and season the ground chicken, toss the defrosted tomato sauce on top, heat it through and then put it on top of the pre-cooked spaghetti squash. EASY! 

I love easy. Especially on a .... HUMP day! (I love that commercial!)

Dinner tonight was rock fish that we caught ourselves, alongside some steamed broccoli and some home grown butternut squash that I roasted on Sunday. 

If you are in the kitchen making dinner or prepping food, pause for a moment and consider what else you could easily do in that moment that will make life a little easier. 

Do you do mid-week food prep? Do you add extra this or that to the grill? Why or why not?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Aaand We're Back!

Well, if you follow me on Twitter on Facebook you know that somehow along the line WordPress has locked me out of my paid blog.

And, WordPress doesn't have ANY way to contact support by phone or email. AND there is no way to contact them if you can't sign in (like the forums). And I can't recover my password or reset it because the site claims my user email is invalid. It isn't. It is the same as it has been since I set it up in March.

Also, I didn't pay with Paypal (and even if I did I wouldn't still have access to the statement with some code they say would have been sent) as access to Paypal statements only goes back three months.

So, here I am. I paid for and used a website with WordPress, and for some unknown reason I am locked out, and I can get ZERO support. Super! If anyone knows any way for me to try and contact someone at WordPress that can help, besides spamming Twitter, I would really appreciate the help!

Anyway, I'm going to be posting here until such time as I can get the WordPress situation resolved.


I'm not going to go into detail about everything that has been going on at Casa Beebe for the last ... uh...three months or so, but suffice it to say we have had an awesome and SUPER busy summer.

I am working and enjoying what I do, though it is still on a temporary basis. There are things percolating, so I am holding out hope that a long term position more in line with what I went to school for will land in my lap soon.

As is typical for us we took the boat out several times this summer, did tons of gardening and preserving, we had house guests off and on all summer long, some for a night and some for several weeks at a time. We really enjoyed seeing everyone and are really glad that we have created friendships and relationships that allow people to feel comfortable to come and stay.

We also made a few trips to Portland to visit friends for birthdays, girls weekend and a wedding, went to Bend for a half marathon and weekend hangout with friends, spent a couple days down at Lake Shasta in over a hundred degree weather.

Christopher bought himself a go-kart (125 cc shifter kart) and has started racing at our local kart track. He took first place in his class in his rookie race!!

We went to a few excellent concerts, including Kenny Loggins (amazing!), Blue Oyster Cult (meh) and REO Speedwagon (SPECTACULAR!).

And now we are into Fall! The garden is 99% done, I planted bulbs for spring and some greens for the fall garden. But the hard work of the garden harvest is done.

And we just celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary!! :-)

What have you all been up to? Any questions or blog topic requests? I'm going to do a "Friday Five" post (maybe before Friday...) and probably a weekend review post will be upcoming as well.

Thanks for continuing to follow me around the internet as I get this WordPress blog situation resolved.

Plus, remember you can always keep up with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram, Goodreads, Yelp and more!

Happy Sunday friends!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Buh Buy Blurb Column

I started posting here at Blurb Column on Earth Day (April 10) 2010. 

I am stopping on the Vernal Equinox, or the First Day of Spring (March 20) 2013. 

The last three years have been great! I have created lots of fun content and enjoyed putting my thoughts and life out there. In the last three years I have created nearly 400 posts. This is sort of crazy to me, but it is really awesome and fun, too. 

From here on out though the content will be posted only on my brand spankin' shiny new wordpress site!

Yup! That's right! After almost 400 posts and 3 years of content I have moved everything over to a new site hosted by wordpress. I love the new home page design!

Blogger was a great, free, easy, point and click way to get me into blogging, but I have been frustrated with it more and more over the last year or so. I felt constricted by what I couldn't do and I wanted to give my audience a better experience. I hope I have solved both issues by making this change!

I have updated my facebook page, twitter feed and even created a Casa Beebe gmail account! 

I certainly hope you will continue to read and enjoy all the fun stuff Chris and I do by visiting our Casa Beebe blog. 

Thanks for being here and following along, now jump on over to Casa Beebe!  I have a new post coming up this afternoon about how we celebrated my last day of school! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Calorie Labels? Distance Labels? Time Labels?

We have all seen labels like this, or the nutrition label on the back of most packaged foods, that tells us how many calories the food product we are contemplating consuming contains. (Nice alliteration, eh?)

But do we really even know what this means? 

I mean, we *think* we know what this means, or we have an idea maybe. 

Lower calorie is better. Right? 

Let's break this down a little bit. 

Okay, that's not the real definition.


1. Either of two units of heat energy
2. The energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1*C (now usually defined as 4.1868 joules). 

Well that's just more than less than unhelpful. (haha...thanks Captain Jack!)

So let's just try to understand it. Our bodies need energy to function. Calories, found in food, provide energy. If we don't consume enough energy (calories) for our daily functions, then we may get sick, or be unable to complete acts of daily living. If we consume too much energy (calories) then our bodies are biologically adapted to store the excess energy consumed as fat. If we consume the appropriate amount of energy (calories) then our bodies have enough energy to function and complete daily living tasks, but is not provided with excess energy to store, meaning we maintain a healthy body mass. 

Whew. Ok, calorie = energy. I think I got it. 


A basic understanding then of a calorie as a unit of energy leads to the question how much energy do I need to consume? There are lots of great sources to find this information, including free sources on the Internet, a trainer at a gym, or your doctor. But a very simple guideline is to take your current weight and multiply it by 10. (I am not any kind of doctor, trainer or dietitian, this is just my own personal experience and knowledge talking.) 

For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds would need approximately 1500 energy units (calories) per day to sustain daily activities and maintain their existing body mass. Meaning, if you want to lose weight you would need to consume less. 

Okay then we have defined a calorie and determined how many we need in a day. That is helpful. But not really. Because, as a recent study in Scientific American pointed out, "It requires a computation that many people might not find easy to make at the point of decision" (Anthony Viera, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine). Basically, people have a hard time reading a menu or nutrition label and relating that number (110 calories per serving, or 600 calories in a hamburger) to their daily caloric energy needs. 

The study noted that when subjects were given a menu with both calories counts and the distance that would be required to walk in order to "burn off" the energy consumed by that menu item, study participants ordered a meal with an average of 194 fewer calories than participants who chose from a menu containing only calorie counts. 


That is pretty significant! Imagine, if at every meal out you were able to shave nearly 200 calories off of what you consume just by being able to relate how much energy it would take to use those calories! It gives people a tangible way to translate calories to activity. 

I mean, think about it, do you know how long you have to walk (or run or elliptical or swim or whatever) to burn off your morning latte? Or your afternoon soda? Or you favorite dessert? Or that extra pat of butter? Probably not, at least not by the numbers alone. 

What do you understand better:

1 Tablespoon of butter has approximately 100 calories. 


1 Tablespoon of butter will require 1.5 miles of walking.*

*used as an example only

Personally, if I relate 1 Tablespoon of butter to a mile and a half of walking it actually means something to me, whereas the calorie count, well, doesn't really. 

In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to outlaw large sugary soda beverages. His law has hit a few snags recently, but as part of the campaign to create awareness the subways in New York had signs posted that showed New Yorkers, visually and numerically, how far they would have to walk to burn off a 20 oz sugar soda. 

I don't know about you, but that image makes an impact! I've never been to New York, but it looks like a pretty decent walk (3 miles after all) from Union Square to Brooklyn. All for one 20 oz soda. 

As the Scientific American article points out, this idea has "stirred interest" in how calorie counts can be labeled on menus or food items that will allow people to have a better understanding of how much energy they are consuming, perhaps in excess of their total needs. 

It may not be the cure to obesity in this country, but I think giving the people more information about their food, and how it impacts them *does* help them make better choices overall. I think that those of us who have spent a lot of time learning about health, healthy eating, food, calories, fats, sugars, etc., think that this information is well-known, but I don't believe that is true. I believe there is a significant portion of our population that really has no knowledge or usable understanding of calories and healthy vs. unhealthy food choices. 

Pictures like the one above or menus that express calories in terms of physical expenditure, like walking for 3 miles, may be able to make a great connection and impression upon people, which, who knows? might even lead to lesser obesity! 

What do you think? Do you know enough about calories to use just numerical data to make good choices? Or does distance and physical expenditure definitions mean more to you?